I am not fascinated by the human body. When people share the intricacies of the human heart on social media, I block the page from which it originated. I am squeamish and squirmy about blood, cuts, wounds, holes in the body. I recognize that the human body is beautiful. A miracle. It is amazing what our bodies can do. I am the awe of the process of bringing new people into the world. Having twins made that even more pronounced. A single human being can create two lives simultaneously. Wow! Just… Wow!
But I do not want to watch it.
This squeamishness is why I waited until Sunshine asked me to before getting my ears pierced. The very idea of sticking pretty metal through holes in my body? No, thank you.
Hospitals make me uncomfortable. They smell of my anxiety. Something about the air in a hospital. It seems unnatural. I tense up as soon as I smell it.
Yesterday, I experienced both of these events together, and I did it all for Grumpy.
Grumpy and Sleepy recently learned how to climb onto the couch. Sunshine was not a climber. I recently told my best friend that Sunshine only learned to climb onto the couch six months ago. Slight hyperbole. But really, she was not a climber.
Sleepy is a climber, and Grumpy? He likes to do what Sleepy does.
The boys both love climbing onto the couch and sitting there like big boys. Saint Daddy and I say that they like being “Kings of the Castle.”
Yesterday, Grumpy climbed onto the couch while I watched America’s Got Talent on Hulu and painted Sunshine’s toes. I snapped a picture of him, looking adorable as King of the Castle. Saint Daddy came home from the gym. Sleepy was wandering around the dining room with a ball, saying, “ball, ball, ball.” Saint Daddy entered the kitchen, and Grumpy fell off the side of the couch.
He had fallen before, but this was different.
He screamed. Not cried. Screamed.
I jumped up. Saint Daddy called, “What was that?”
I picked up Grumpy, and there was blood dripping from near his mouth. I took him to Saint Daddy for a look. I knew me, and looking would make my woozy. I would have to sit down. I would need cold water and five minutes, and Grumpy needed love. He did not need to be patient.
Saint Daddy said there was too much blood. He did not know where it was coming from, so I took Grumpy to the entryway to assess him in better light.
The bleeding was coming from the bottom of his cheek, near his mouth, not his tongue. I worried he had bit off part of his tongue. But this was external.
Saint Daddy looked again.
There was a hole in Grumpy’s cheek and something was inside the hole. One of us needed to take Grumpy to the hospital.
And suddenly, I had Grumpy in the car, covered in blood, only half a water bottle of water, no dinner for either of us, my cell phone at less than 20%, and on our way to the hospital.
Two of my big stressors. Wounds and hospitals.
I held Grumpy in the waiting room while a kind older woman asked solicitous questions about him. She hoped he was okay. She would pray for us.
When we went back to be admitted by a nurse, Grumpy panicked. He was in pain. He did not know what was going on, and I know he was starving. The oxygen monitor was a nuisance, he refused to settle long enough to be weighed, and he screamed bloody murder when the nurse put a hospital bracelet on his leg.
I tried to comfort him but he did not know how to hold his head. He wanted his thumb, but it hurt to put it in his mouth.
We went back to a room to wait. My cell battery drained, and I switched to power save mode, hoping it would last well enough to keep Saint Daddy updated. I texted my best friend and my oldest sister. I wished we had a book or a toy for Grumpy to focus on.
I tried to keep us both calm.
I was being calm for him.
Yesterday, I talked to a coworker about how it is easier to put my anxiety aside when I have to do it for someone else. Even something as simple as ordering garlic knots after we already ordered. I could do it for her, but I could not have done it for me. No worries, I’ll do it for you.
No worries, Grumpy, I will do it for you.
I sang to him. Twinkle, twinkle little star… I explained to him that we were in the hospital and that the people there all have one thing in common. They all want to help other people not feel pain. And they were going to help him not feel pain. I tried not to look at his injury. I tried not to cry.
The PA came in with an assistant. I laid Grumpy on the bed, and she cleaned his face. I had to hold his arms over his head while he screamed and cried and writhed. I felt helpless. I could not stop it. It had to be done, but I hated it. I saw his injury up close. Two clear punctures.
I began to feel light-headed. I quelled my nausea.
The PA said that there was something in the wound. She asked what did it, and I told her that he had a toy dinosaur in his hand when he fell. She was mystified that parts of the dinosaur could be in Grumpy’s face, but she would get it out.
She said she needed a scalpel to clean the wound better.
Here is another example of his need outweighing my anxiety.
I said, “I won’t be able to watch that.”
She said, “You can wait in the waiting room.”
I said, “No, I can’t do that either. He’s my baby, and I’m going to be here with him.”
Grumpy and I waited again. When the PA came back, she brought a nurse to help hold Grumpy and a papoose to secure his arms and legs.
She numbed his face and used a scalpel to clean his wound. I looked into his eyes the entire time.
“Mommy’s here, baby. I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here. I’m so sorry, baby. I wish I could stop it, but I can’t. I love you. You’re doing such a great job. You’re being so brave. Almost done.”
It felt like it lasted forever as the PA removed the dinosaur and stitched his two punctures. The nurse brought him a freeze pop and a stuffed cat, and he was discharged.
We stopped at CVS to pick up Grumpy’s antibiotic and something for Grumpy to eat, since we both missed dinner and I wanted him in bed as soon as possible. He saw a display of toy cars, and I let him choose one. A white convertible with blue stripes. I bought him Fruit Loops and let him munch on those as we waited for his prescription.
Grumpy became immediately attached to both the car and the Fruit Loops.
We arrived home to great fanfare. Everyone was still awake. I gave Grumpy a wipe down to remove any blood, got him changed, and put him in bed.
Saint Daddy and I decided to use the baby monitor for the first time in six months in case Grumpy needed us. He whimpered in his sleep a few times, but he did not need us.
Babies are strong and brave and resilient. Grumpy is a tough guy.
My mother’s heart was hurting. I am so glad Grumpy is okay. It could have been much worse. But I wish it had never happened. I wish I could have prevented it.
I am mad at me, and I will never get the sight of his tiny distressed eyes reaching out to me from that hospital bed while I stood feet away. They searched for me, they begged me, and I felt helpless to do anything for him.
My anxiety makes everything about last night the stuff of my nightmares. Blood and wounds and hospitals. Not enough water, being alone, nothing to occupy my brain.
But I did it for Grumpy.
My anxiety is no match for the love I have for my son.
I hope to never have to relive that experience again, but with three children that seems unlikely. However, I will do what I must for my babies, my own issues be damned!